Fun Stuff to Do During a Deluge

Dore’s Noah’s Flood, an illustration I first discovered in a volume called Illustrated Bible Stories for Children

Every once in a while, it’s fun to be cooped in a beach house during a bleak, dull, dark November day when clouds hang oppressively low in the heavens (and a storm from the ocean, aided and abetted by a king tide, pushes flood waters into the garage of the Airbnb next door – tee-hee). 

The Gothic grey weather practically demands you break out some Edgar Allan, peruse some of those exquisite Latinate sentences that provide delightful dead weight to so many of his tales, sentences like: 

We pored together over such works as the Ververt et Chartreuse of Gresset; the Belphegor of Machiavelli; the Heaven and Hell of Swedenborg; the Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas Klimm by Holberg; the Chiromancy of Robert Flud, of Jean D’Indaginé, and of De la Chambre; the Journey into the Blue Distance of Tieck; and the City of the Sun of Campanella. One favorite volume was a small octavo edition of the Directorium Inquisitorium , by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne; and there were passages in Pomponius Mela, about the old African Satyrs and œgipans, over which Usher would sit dreaming for hours. His chief delight, however, was found in the perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious book in quarto Gothic — the manual of a forgotten church — the Vigiliae Mortuorum secundum Chorum Ecclesiae Maguntinae.

Still awake?

Or you, if you’re lucky enough to possess one, you can put together a jigsaw puzzle – literal recreation – or play a game of Scrabble, or, if you’re by yourself, a game of solitaire with an actual deck of cards, which make such delightful riffling sounds after you have scooped them up shuffling in preparation of losing once again. 

These activities, by the way, don’t require electricity.

Before the digital age, when I was a boy in Summerville, on a blustery autumn day like today, I’d sometimes put together model airplanes. I remember on one Saturday riding my bike in the rain to the Hobby Shop on North Main to buy a model of a Fokker Triplane, the plane that Baron von Richthofen flew. Oddly enough, he was one of my boyhood heroes, despite his being on the wrong side in a war that killed lovely poets like Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke.

By the way, did you know that Yeats’s poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” is the first poem in English that places a person airborne in what they called back then an aeroplane? It occurs in the third stanza:

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.[1]

That side trip prompted me to extract a collection of Blakes’ poems from the cliched voluminous library, the poems selected by Willie B himself, who wrote the introduction, which begins with this amusing snippet of biography:

“Early in the eighteenth century a certain John O’Neil got into debt and difficulties, these latter apparently political to some extent; and escaped both by marrying a woman named Ellen Blake, who kept a shebeen[2] at Rathmines Dublin and taking his name. He had a son James, I am told, by a previous wife or mistress, and this son took the name of Blake, and in due course married, settled in London as a hosier, and became the father of five children, one of whom was the subject of this memoir.”

So, it seems that Blake had a drop of Irish blood in his veins, which explains a lot.

At any rate, I’ve rambled enough. It’s time for me to reheat Thursday’s chili and check of the girls’ progress on that jigsaw puzzle.

Cheers! And check out Grandson Julian, happy in the golden age before screens. Cackle on, my lovely.


[1] Talking about balance: four rhyming quatrains written in iambic tetrameter.” Four cubed.  

[2] An Irish term for an illicit bar or club trafficking in excisable alcohol without a license.

The Krushtones + The Sand Dollar Social Club = Federico Fellini

The Sound Track

One of the most pleasurable rites of spring celebrated in the Lowcountry each year occurs at the Sand Dollar Social Club on Folly Beach when the Krushtones take the stage for their annual April gig.  

[Cue country preacher]: We’re talking glorification, brothers and sisters, talking bout light!

Krush-tones: (krùsh– tõns)  n. a band that features high-Watt[s] drumming; a bodacious bottom; a searing, eloquent guitar; and  a latter day Jerry Lee Lewis on keyboards.   

Joyous!  

I swear, even if they were a mediocre band, the Krushtones’ taste is so exquisite I’d pay to hear the song sets. Al Green/ Talking Heads, the Beatles, Stones, Chuck Berry.  But mediocre they ain’t.  They exude this palatable vibe of happiness that spreads in concentric circles as if a pearl has been dropped into a pool of sound.  

Make you want to dance and holler hallelujah!

The Sand Dollar itself is difficult to categorize.  As a private social club, it offers all of the exclusiveness of a subway station.  One dollar secures you a year’s membership, but you can’t actually enter the club until 24 hours after your card has been issued.  A typical Friday and Saturday night offers free live music, canned beer for a buck, and and an eclectic clientele that, depending on the vibe the night you happen to be there, ranges from Felliniesque to Lynchian.  

Bikers comprise a large contingent of the revelers, parking their Harleys (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a BMW) perilously close together out front like a chorus line of internally combustive Rockettes.  I dread the day some reeling rummy trips and sets them crashing domino style one after the other. Years ago, before the bikers arrived, I had parked my VW minibus just in front of the designated space.  When JB and I left for home, I was horrified to see at least twenty Harleys lined up about six inches from my back bumper and another car looming about a foot from my front bumper.  Luckily, the fellow pictured below, a regular, helped me successfully to negotiate the scores of gear shifts, wheel turns, and progressions/reversals that liberated me from that straitened space.

Joining the bikers as a discernible group are the long-in-the-tooth dead-end hedonists, who can be subdivided into old hippies and old shaggers.  These sybarites, who hated each other in high school  (the former letting their freak flag[s] fly, the latter sliding sockless feet into their Bass Weejuns) have mellowed over the years and appreciate each other in their shared ethos of self-medication and the never ending but increasingly difficult quest of getting laid.                

A calico combination of others rounds out the squad – attractive, young preppies; South of Broad slummers; working folk shooting pool; the occasional bombastic prophet-of-doom blogger. 

Lynchian vis-a-vis Felliniesque 

What’s the distinction, you may wonder, between these two cinematic adjectives denoting surrealism?  

Although baroque, Fellini’s surrealism tends towards the comic/satiric.  His Satyricon, for example, counterbalances sensuous  shots with grotesque images of Late Empire overindulgence.  Carnivalesque might be an appropriate approximation. 

Lynch’s surrealism is darker, a world of evil where the hideous co-mingle with grotesquely bland clichés of Americana, a la the image of above, where the sinister red-clad midget sits beside someone who looks like he may be employed as a hardware store clerk in a Norman Rockwell painting or the son of the couple depicted in Grant Wood’s American Gothic.  Kafkalite-ish.

If I had to choose between the hellish dilemma of spending eternity in a Fellini film or a Lynch film, I’d definitely opt for the former.  Underneath all of the grotesqueness of Fellini lies a positive procreative impulse. Take “The Widow of Ephesus” segment of The Satyricon, for example, where  a woman who has decided to starve herself in her husband’s tomb is seduced by a soldier guarding crucified corpses.  

Now that’s what I call pro life.

Lynch, on the other hand, is anti-life.  Not that his films aren’t hugely enjoyable and laugh- out-loud funny.  Nevertheless, like the parents in Eraserhead, procreation begets monstrosity.  You don’t want to bring a child into David Lynch’s world.

In short, a Felliniesque evening at the Sand Dollar is more pleasurable Lynchian evening, 

Friday, 9 April 2010 

I’m not making this up.  During the Krushtones’ first set, I witnessed the departure of one of Charleston’s wealthiest septuagenarians and his seeing-eye trophy wife.  She, a blonde, a head taller and thirty years younger, held his hand mommy-like as she led him through the throng.  As they were leaving, three female dwarves dressed to the nines flowed past them and took their place at the corner of the stage.  I repeat, I’m not making this up.

Lynchian or Felliniesque?

If Johnny Mac had been playing that night, a man deeply in love with the sound of his own guitar, or Jeannie Wiggins, thumping serviceable rock to her adoring groupies, the karma might have darkened the brain chemistry that ultimately determines the existential nature of my world.  However, with the Krushtones on stage, beaming, jumping, singing “Lady Madonna,”  the positive vibration was infectious.  Even the stern-faced bouncer who looks like the promotional US Marine of recruitment commercials cracked a smile.

Too bad the Krushtones were too young to play at Altamont.

An Anthropological Adventure Highlighting Late Pandemic Folly Beach Behaviors

The last time I donned the ol’ pith helmet and ventured inside the rich anthropological domain of Folly Beach, SC, was on 17 March 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic. Even though it was St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday associated with the consumption of intoxicating spirits, a day when inebriates typically jampack the bars of the so-called Edge of America, only a few foolhardy hedonists stumbled the streets that Saturday, their left hands clutching red cups, their right hands thumbing their noses, as it were, at Dr. Fauci’s fervent pleas to stay indoors to stem the contagion.

Why would I – whom sociologists classify as geriatric, advertisers term a golden ager, and young people consider an old fart – expose myself to possible infection? After all, at 67, I fell into the likely-to-die demographic. Why, you ask?  

Because I’m a scientist, damn it; that’s why.

Of course, I submitted a report of that field work, including video, which you can access here.

Well, 407 long days have elapsed since that death-defying foray onto the potentially contagious sidewalks of FBSC 17 March 2020. Now, with COVID cases waning nationwide (albeit spiking in India and elsewhere abroad) and having received two doses of the Moderna vaccine – the second one a month ago – I decided it was high time to investigate. With Caroline, my invaluable anthropological colleague, erstwhile grief counsellor, and crackerjack photographer at my side, we trekked to Center Street to determine to what degree behaviors have changed since the early days of the pandemic.

We set up base camp at Chico Feo and found that outdoor eatery a-swarm with Friday night foragers, mostly tourists, but a considerable number of local denizens lolled there as well. After one low-impact libation, Caroline and I decided to head straight to Ground Zero, the shitshow known as the Rooftop at Snapper Jack’s, a two-block walk. Before departing however, our sponsors, pictured below, suggested we be on the lookout for topers tippling drinks that Jenny (pictured far right) has dubbed “ho-a-canes” and “bro-nados.”

from left to right, Dylan, Patrick, Faith, and Jenny

At the base of the stairs leading to Snapper Jack’s rooftop bar, we encountered our first bachelorette crew, pictured below. They seemed to me, despite the festive pink cowgirl hats, a bit subdued. Caroline and I peppered them with questions. The 23-year-old bride-to-be (second from the left) had found, according to her, the “man of her dreams,” but her companion, the most loquacious of the quartet (far right), said she was patiently waiting for a man who “worshipped the very ground she stood upon” and would settle for nothing less. Upon hearing this, my subconscious selected from its poetic jukebox these lines from Yeats’s “Never Give All the Heart”:

Never give all the heart, for love 

Will hardly seem worth thinking of 

To passionate women if it seem 

Certain, and they never dream 

That it fades out from kiss to kiss . . .

Anyway, we bade them good fortune, wished the bride-to-be a long happy and fruitful marriage, and climbed the stairs passing through a portal that ferried us to the Jersey shore.

No doubt these images can attest far better than my spendthrift prose.

Ladies and gentlemen, as far as these folks are concerned, the pandemic is kaput.


Pleasure Chest Rocks Chico Feo

What a blast we had digging on Pleasure Chest, an absolutely great show band with an eclectic repertoire of killer covers. We’re talking Booker T, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, Erma Thomas, and, drum roll, the Buckinghams. Time won’t let me, no it won’t and by the way, time ain’t on my side, no it ain’t.

Here’s a peek:

A Statistical Foray into the Funkification Ratios that Separate Folly Beach, SC from the Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island (Not to Mention Kiawah)

bill's art installation

photo by Caroline Tigner Moore

To say Folly Beach is peculiar is to say the sun is hot, night is dark, and that Marty Feldman never graced the cover of People magazine as the “Sexiest Man Alive.”  After all, Folly Beach is – in the now famous phrase coined by my friend and former boss Bill Perry – the Edge of America.[1]

marty

the late great Marty Feldman

 

I’ve always liked the sound of the word peculiar. According to my very own OED  (whose print Superman with telescopic vision would have difficulty decoding), peculiar comes to English from the Latin peculium, originally meaning “property in cattle.” That cow over there – let’s call her Elsa –  belongs to US Representative Devin Nunes. She’s peculiar to Representative Nunes in that she’s his alone. She’s peculiar to him.  But it’s also peculiar that Devin Nunes is suing the cow known as “Devin Nunes’ Cow.” I’m not making this up. [2]

Over time, as words are wont to do, the definition of “peculiar” branched out from the pasture of private ownership and took on the meaning of being different from others. Not surprisingly, being different acquired somewhat of a negative connotation, because to many, especially those intent on keeping up with the Joneses, being different (or unusual) is often not a good thing.

No PR person would ever come up with the phrase “Edge of America” to promote Kiawah Island. Kiawah doesn’t mind being different in an exclusive or unique way, but it certainly doesn’t want to come off as edgy, and it’s succeeded. Kiawah is about as edgy as Jack Nicklaus.

Not to be confused with Jack Nicholson.  I remember seeing an interview with Jack Nicholson not long after the actor Hugh Grant’s arrest for solicitation. The interviewer (maybe Barbra Walters) asked Jack why someone rich and good-looking and married to a beautiful woman (i.e., someone like Hugh Grant) would require the services of a prostitute.

“Peculiarities,” Jack said with his trademark leer, “peculiarities.”

So another denotation of peculiar  – actually the number one denotation – is “strange or odd,” like walking in “polka dots and checkered slacks,” to borrow a phrase from Elvis Costello (and to avoid examples of possible outré sexual inclinations that might have prompted Mr. Grant to seek peculiar connubial pleasures outside the bounds of his marriage).

Good God, I’ve wandered far afield from paragraph one. Actually, what I want to know is what makes so Folly different from its barrier island neighbors, the Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island?  What is it about Folly that makes it so peculiar?

folly pc

IOP pc

 

usa-south-carolina-sullivans-island

To attempt to find the answer to this ultimately useless question, I did some googling on Yahoo (mixed metaphors is where it’s at) and compared the demographics of the three island communities.[3]

Population:

Folly Beach  2,623

Isle of Palms 4,322

Sullivans Island 1,921

That tells us not much at all, except that Folly is the median and the mean population is 2,955.

Racial Composition

Folly Beach  White: 99.32%  Black 0.68%  Asian: 0%  Others 0%

Isle of Palms  White 94.75% Two or more races 2.85% Black 0.25% Asian 1.47%  Others 0%

Sullivans Island  White 97.11%  Two or more races 0.93% Black 0.28%  Asian 1.07% Others 0%

Who would have guessed Folly is the least diversified?

Median Ages

Folly Beach 49.7 (43.7 for males, 58.4 for females)[4]

Isle of Palms 56.2 (58 for males, 54.7 for females)

Sullivans Island 48.1 (45.8 for males, 49.6 for females)

Once again, Folly is the median.

Education

Folly Beach

Less than 9th grade 0% , 9th to 12th  1.98%, HS grad 11.05%, Some College 23.17%, Assoc. degree 4.29%, BA/S 38.25%, Graduate degree 21.27%

Isle of Palms

Less than 9th grade 0% , 9th to 12th  0.32%, HS grad 11.84%, Some College 14.05%, Assoc. degree 2.49%, BA/S 40.83%, Graduate degree 30.48%

Sullivans Island

Less than 9th grade 0% , 9th to 12th  0.77%, HS grad 4.95%, Some College 11.13 %, Assoc. degree 3.34%, BA/S 41.93%, Graduate degree 37.88%

All three probably better educated per capita than similar sized SC towns.

Income

Folly Beach

Average overall $49,495 ($65,714 male, $38, 324 female)

Isle of Palms

Average overall $53,782 ($74,714 male, $46,161 female)

Sullivans Island

Average overall $62,750 ($103,947 male, $38,913 female)

Wow, the average Sullivans’ male makes $38, 233 more than the average Folly male, the difference being a mere $91 less than the average Folly female salary. Is that peculiar? No, it’s what you’d expect.

Conclusion

So let’s face it. That was a waste of time. If you’re going to come up with an answer, demographics aren’t going to help. You need to go maybe to history or —

Wait, Caroline just popped into the drafty garret to ask what I was up to, so I told her I was trying to determine via demographics why Folly was more peculiar, funkier, than the IOP and Sullivans.

“More barstools per capita,” she immediately said.

Damn!  Being so much smarter, why in the hell do women make so much less than men?

Yes, Caroline: Planet Follywood, Sunset Cay, the Washout, Jack of Cups, Drop-In, Loggerheads, the Crab Shack, the Surf Bar, Taco Boy, St. James Gate, Lowlife, Wiki Tiki (or whatever it’s called), Rita’s, the Tides, Snapper Jacks, Chico Feo.

I’m sure I’m leaving somebody out – and except for one, none of them smack of commerciality.


[1] Wisely, Bill copyrighted the phrase.

[2] https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-10-20/abcarian-sunday-column

[3] All data is from the World Population Review website

[4] Re. the wide gap in medial ages for males and females on Folly: I remember going into Planet Follywood several years ago where the clientele was quite a bit older than the folks gathered on the rooftop bar across the street. Planet Follywood is old school, caters more to locals than tourists. Anyway, sitting across the bar from me was an older woman – and by older I mean Methuselahian, way over the 14-year difference between male and female in the Folly data above. I noticed her looking over at me, excessively batting her eyes, in almost cartoon coquetry. I hate to be ageist, especially given that I myself am an aged man in a paltry thing sort of way, but being hit on by what very well might be the daughter of a Spanish-American War veteran creeped me out. As I was getting up to go, I sneaked a peek at her and discovered that what I had deemed flirtatious winking was actually some sort of spasmodic tic.

 

Off Folly Beach’s Beaten Path

rusted rooftop

I’ve never been one for neatness – in my dress, in my handwriting, in my housekeeping, in my prose.  I blame this lackadaisical attitude on the South’s losing what a few of our stubborn old folks still insist on calling “the War Between the States.”  Don Doyle’s fascinating study New Men, New Cities, New South: Atlanta, Nashville, Charleston, Mobile, 1860-1910 details Charlestonians’ postbellum refusal to do business with Northerners, unlike the folks in Atlanta and Nashville, who resumed trading with the victors and flourished.  Meanwhile, on the coasts, we sat around with empty pockets talking about the good ol’ days while the paint peeled from the clapboard of our houses.  With no money to keep up appearances, the heat aiding and abetting our lethargy, we became tolerant of  a certain sleepy seediness.  There are many exceptions, of course, but I am not one of them.

I prefer hodgepodge to uniformity, black-eyed susans to manicured lawns, the eastside to the westside of Folly Island (though the westside also has delightful pockets of funkitude). Although you constantly hear how Folly has changed – and it has – many homes and lots tucked away on the east side from Second to Ninth retain a rustic tinge – a vibe I have come to call paradoxically rural Folly.

Here’s a brief tour

clothesline 4

rusted wheels

vine house

the hanged man

I do not find/ The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.

8th st lantana

legalize it

Now that the majority of the mainland has been barred from the island, things are extremely quiet, no ear-splitting sirens, no whooping and hollering, no thumping bass notes blasting from climate killing jacked-up trucks.

Sigh.

Folly Post Office (original)

Americana Music at Chico Feo

 

 

 

My brother, Fleming Moore, aka Shady, candidate for mayor of the Flowertown on the Pines, opened for Americana all star Danielle Howle last night at Chico Feo on the Edge of America.  Here’s some video from the show.  Cheers.

 

Protestant Carnival

 

Alas, even though Folly Beach is the Edge of America, even though it’s the mostest bohemianest spot in South Carolina, it is, nevertheless, Protestant.  You gotta have Lent to have a good carnival.  At a Protestant Mardi Gras parade, like on Folly Beach, they ain’t no nudity, so the closest thang we got what I’d call Dionysian is the purple headed chick on stilts on this here video.

All the same Bontemps, y’all.

 

Chico, Feo, Folly Beach’s Cannery Row

Not to be over-self-congratulatory, not to be so much hipper-than-thou, but brothers and sisters, if you ain’t hanging at a proletariat bar at least once in a while, you missing out.

Chico Feo, my personal cannery row, boasts a clientele of regulars that rivals the characters in a Jerry Jeff Walker song.[1]

Last Sunday, for example, I spent a couple of hours conversing with Brandon, an official member of the Lumbee tribe of Robeson, North Carolina. In Summerville, when I was growing up, these Native American offshoots were targets of scorn, denigrated as “half breeds,” “Summerville Indians,” or “brass ankles.”

(If you got the time – or better yet you should make the time – read Jo Humphreys’ Nowhere Else on Earth and learn about the Lumbees and Henry Berry Lowery. We’re talking Robin Hood-meets-Swamp Fox Civil War swashbuckling. Also, vicariously, you experience the trials and tribulations of being that breed back then. It’s historical fiction at his finest.

Anyway, Brandon has the Confederate battle flag tattooed on his left side beneath his shirt somewhere (in honor of his father’s ancestry) and Indian iconography tattooed on right arm and fist (in honor of his mother’s).[2]. He also whipped out his official tribal ID card and explained what the dates signify on the tribal ring he proudly wears. The bad news is that I doubled the couple of All Day IPAs I had planned on and abandoned my essay-grading regimen.

The conversation began with me talking about the ‘60s history course I’m trying to teach, and he told me he was really into Nam, that his two favorite Viet Nam movies are Platoon and Apocalypse Now because Platoon captures the day-to-day grind of warfare and Apocalypse Now the insanity.

He should know. He’s served in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Brandon

Four days later, I met Brandon’s former roommate Kenny, who a few months ago had his motorcycle rear-ended in the wee hours on Arctic Avenue by some drunk woman supposedly going 70.[3]

It was touch-and-go for a good while, and after months of hospitalization, this was his first appearance back to Chico. The staff essentially abandoned their posts momentarily to shake his hand.

Kenny, too, has Indian tattoos, the word letters I-N-C-A tattooed on the space above his finger joints and knuckles on his left hand. He now lives with his fiancée Miranda just off the island and wears the beatific smile of a survivor. I stupidly told them how lucky they were, told them about losing Judy.

Believe me; they get it.

* * *

Best quotes of the week:

Me: Got this pal in NOLA with a one-room condo, so when you come to visit him, he’ll put you up in a hotel because the money he saves by having a one-bedroom condo saves him so much money he’s happy to foot hotel bills for his guests.

Jason: Got lots of friends living in cars saving all kinds of money, and they won’t even buy me a fuckin’ beer.


John, sitting at the bar, struggling to fetch his cigs from his pants pocket.

Jason: The ladies expect tight pants these days; if you can’t get your cigarettes out of your pants, so be it.


Walking Joel: Guess what my mom got at Harris-Teeter? Grapes, man, and you know what? They taste just like cotton candy! You close your eyes. Put one in your mouth, and I swear, even though it’s a grape, it tastes just like cotton candy.

John (cocking a skeptical eyebrow): So how many pounds of this stuff did she buy?

Walking Joel: Blocks, man. They come in blocks.

One more, Jude, please.


[1] I’m too lazy to look up to see if “clientele” is considered singular or plural. Calling Catherine Salmon, my very favorite grammar maven!

[2] And, yes, he is painfully aware of the paradox of the clash.

[3] Which frankly defies credibility.

The Death of the First Summer of Act 3

I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise.

Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”


Now that I’m not hanging in the Social Security office or at the estate law offices of Kuhn and Kuhn (whom I robustly recommend) or the Charleston County RMC office, I have in the last couple of weeks been able to revert to being a simple beach bum.

It’s the life of Jimmy Buffett, sans the Hawaiian shirts – it’s sandy, gritty, humid, free.

Had a great weekend just past. Gave my first surf lesson in four years on Saturday and spent part of the Sabbath promenading Walt-Whitman style up and down Center Street where I bantered with a twangy husband and wife with matching calf tattoos.

Saturday evening as I was leaving Mosquito Beach, an old black man with a walking stick stopped me, climbed onto the hood of my car and lay spread eagle with his back against the windshield.

After maybe ten seconds, he hopped off laughing.

Once on his feet, he performed the old-fashioned roll-down-the-window cranking pantomime and welcomed my companion and me with a friendly greeting laced with f-words. He was happy; we were happy.

The night was just getting started. Fun ahoy!

But now, just when the summer has become like a sort of typical summer for me (i.e., not teeming with post-mortem to-dos), it’s time to stick a fork in it. Next Thursday, I need to show up not-hungover at my school and begin my 32nd year of striking through linking verbs and offering alternate phraseology. Pontificating about the great linguistic blessing of William’s kicking Harold’s ass at Hastings. Tapping talkers in chapel on the shoulder to shut them up.

Anyway, this, my last week, I’m going to embrace it, to rage, rage against the dying of the reggae riff.

Chico Feo on a December Saturday

Around four today, I went down to Chico Feo with my 9th graders’ summer reading book and annotating pen in hand. A loudmouthed young man (i.e., early forties) smoking a cigar at the bar asked if there were any other “hidden gems” around the beach. Greg, the bartender, said, “We generally don’t like plugging the competition.”

But then Greg caved and mentioned the Jack of Cups, adding, “It’s not really hidden though.”

The cigar-chomper started talking about how cheap everything was down here compared to Ohio — even downtown Charleston in the touristy places — and just when I was getting ready to reposition myself out of earshot, Jeremy, one of the cooks, sat down beside me.

Unfortunately, you don’t get to know the cooks at Chico Feo as well as the bartenders because, duh, they’re in the kitchen rassling up Mahi tacos or a noodle bowl or a batch of curried goat.

I’d talked to Jeremy before a few times on slow nights and knew he was from Louisiana. I told him I was headed to New Orleans in early September, and he said that he’d just gotten back from there yesterday. He and his extended family had spent ten days on the southern coast fishing, eating, and drinking beer. He said that the youngest of that clan were teenagers and one of his parents had chided him for using foul language in front of them. “I try to use polite language when I’m in polite company,” he said, “but I’m never in polite company,”

We had a wide-ranging conversation in which I discovered Jeremy has a way with words, a sharp wit. He had a roll of blue tape with him, and I asked him what it was for, and he said, “labeling things in the kitchen.” He said he had been looking for the tape all day. “That’s why I like living alone,” he said, “because I know where everything is.” This reminded me that in my recent widowerhood, I had developed an incredibly efficient way to load the dishwasher.

Me: Do you have a dishwasher?

Jeremy: No, I don’t have any dishes.

We started about talking about New Orleans, and he asked me if there was anything specific I was going to do, and I said I was definitely going to hit the Rock and Bowl, which, as it turns out, was one of his favorite high school hangouts because back then the drinking age was 18, he was tall, and never carded.

“Tell me about a cool spot I should go?” (asking like the Ohioan for the inside scoop on hidden gems).

“Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge.”

Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club

I’ll leave you with one last of his witticisms. Greg was emptying ashtrays with a pair of vice grips, and I said, “Man is a toolmaker, a user of tools.”

Jeremy said, “or just a tool.”

So with that, I bid this Monday a fond farewell, will saunter downstairs (saunter’s a stupid verb, by the way) and have a chat with John Jameson.